Published: 2019-03-13 12:17
Last Updated: 2019-03-13 12:48
On March 11, 1966, the city of Ma’an in the south of Jordan, witnessed a painful natural disaster. The heavy rainfall caused the death of almost 100 people including pilgrims who had stopped in Ma’an on their way to Mecca.
A violent state of weather instability developed over the Middle East region, causing unusually heavy thunderstorms in parts of Egypt, the Levant, northern Saudi Arabia, and western Iraq, causing heavy flows of water down the valleys which meant widespread floods.
At 6:45 am on Friday, March 11th, 1966, floodwaters raided Ma’an, suddenly sweeping parts of the city, ravaging houses and cars, passing through the markets and the prison, and causing the collapse of several houses on top of their inhabitants. It took three hours for half of the city to get destroyed, and all phone lines were completely cutoff between Ma'an and Aqaba.
The disaster caused the displacement of thousands of citizens, most of whom had to sleep in the streets after their homes were completely demolished. Among the saddest stories of the great tragedy was a newly married couple who were washed away on their first morning together after the wedding had taken place the night before.
The late King Hussein Bin Talal led the rescue operations and ordered the mobilization of all the state's resources to help the stricken city.
The official press published the names of the victims who were identified, whereas many bodies remained anonymous as no one was able to identify them.
The disaster turned into a major solidarity campaign, with aid coming in from all official bodies of the Kingdom, donations, and relief for the residents of the city poured from all over Jordan, as well as several neighboring Arab countries.
85 of Ma’an’s residents were killed in the floods, 7 went missing, 7 unidentified bodies were buried, 10 pilgrims died, and 93 were injured.